Charter Schools Place Artisans in the Classroom

“Teaching is an artisan profession.  Excellent teaching requires all the skills, creativity and craftsmanship that the word “artisan” implies. Teaching done well yields a uniquely artisan product,” said Nancy Jester, District 1 Representative to the DeKalb County Board of Education in explaining her support for the statewide charter amendment which would give the State of Georgia the ability to approve charter school petitions to meet local needs.  As it stands now, local boards of education don’t like the competition from charter schools which are also public schools.  So, these competition-averse school boards take every opportunity to trump up reasons to deny charter petitions.

“There is no downside for teachers in this charter school amendment,” Jester continued.  “This is really an organic movement that will enable excellent teachers to take back control of their profession and their careers.  I envision smart teachers getting together to start their own charter schools.  Why would they want to be under the thumb – or the hob-nail boot – of DeKalb’s central office administrators when these teachers know best how to teach?”

Henry Ford led the way in making automobiles affordable to the American public through development of mass production of his Model T.  And, then Ford lost his way and his market advantage by refusing to embrace innovation that was clearly desired by customers.  Ford’s one-size-fits-all Model A, introduced in 1920, was still a relic of the past even as it was being produced.  But, Henry Ford influenced more than just car production.

Since the 1920s, public schools have applied the Henry Ford mass production model and the factory principle of economies of scale, ineffectively, to education — consolidating into ever-larger entities.  “Educational fads and fancies come and go, but they are imposed on an educational model that remains stuck in the past. While Henry Ford’s Model A has become just an artifact, public education after all this time continues to operate on a Model A chassis,” noted Daniel Hager, an adjunct scholar for the MackinacCenter for Public Policy.

For example, DeKalb County Schools is an antediluvian behemoth – and an educational bureaucracy mostly run by overpaid self-important educrats who are both incompetent and corrupt.  Like all bureaucrats everywhere, they seek self-perpetuation.  DCSS educrats will not willingly relinquish their chokehold on our children and our tax dollars.  They know that there is nowhere else that they can make so much money for doing so little.  Many of their “advanced degrees” are laughable. The fate of our children is of no consequence to them as long as they can continue to stuff their pockets with our money and do the same for their friends and family.

The constitutional amendment for charter schools offers an excellent work-around opportunity for teachers and communities who want their own school system – smaller, completely transparent, more personal, more responsive, closer to the customer, providing excellent education through artisan teaching – over which they can exercise true local control.  Charter schools are a step in the right direction.

If the constitutional amendment passes, DeKalb County Schools can no longer hold hostage the wishes of the local community.  They can either approve the charter school petitions that are brought before them – or the state will hopefully do so. This is a wonderful opportunity for teachers to work with parents to establish schools that meet local needs and are accountable.

Henry Ford finally chose to change, though his refusal to meet the needs of customers meant he had lost marketshare that he would never regain. Public schools cling to their own Model T mentality like a security blanket.  The charter school amendment offers opportunity to communities that care about their children.

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37 Responses to Charter Schools Place Artisans in the Classroom

  1. guest says:

    Some info about Families for Better Public Schools, a major backer and front group of for profit education businesses in support of this amendment. This is NOT about neighbors and artisan teachers getting together to make a school. That is already possible through your local boards of education.
    Top contributors to Families for Better Public Schools
    Heritage Academies
    k12 INC
    Charter Schools USA
    Alice Walmart Walton

  2. A new AJC report shows a lack of security on high stakes [expensive] testing used to evaluate teachers’ performance and will soon tie to merit pay:

    More cheating scandals inevitable, as states can’t ensure test integrity

    Cheating scandals have surfaced in several major cities, and a Journal-Constitution analysis of test scores earlier this year suggests a nationwide problem. The newspaper reported in March that 196 school districts exhibited patterns of suspicious test scores similar to those in Atlanta, where the patterns proved to be cheating.

    And if cheating is widespread, it is likely to get worse. As more states and districts tie teacher evaluations, bonuses and pay to test results, the motivation to cheat will only increase in the years to come.

    For now, the nation spends as much as $760 million a year on testing required by NCLB, but it spends little to ensure the test results are legitimate.

  3. abc teachers says:

    Nancy speaks as the “heart” of Dekalb County teachers. Everything said about the frustrations of teachers and the dilemma with palace personnel is so true. .

  4. momfromhe11 says:

    I have yet to decide which side of the charter school amendment I fall on. I appreciate all the arguments I have seen here on both sides.

    I know, however, that the Museum School, a charter created by a local group who had a fresh idea, was blockaded by the DeKalb County School System at the same time other (not as innovative) county charter schools were being approved and yet other existing charters were being extended despite having failed to fulfill the terms of their charters. This clearly shows the political nature of approval, and argues that this county, at least, cannot be trusted to look at a charter proposal on its merits. The same holds true for Ivy Prep and ICS.

    On the other hand, I am aware of the pitfalls of corporate-run charters. The controversy surrounding Fulton Science Academy and (closer to home) the mess that was Academy of Lithonia are examples.

    What I am in favor of is the charter school as Nancy describes it – a school where innovation is welcome and the driving force is an alliance of faculty, families and students. This is where I would want my children to learn.

  5. longtime vet says:

    Doesn’t it seem weird that the state DOE, local school boards, etc would create the rules, regulations and processes by which public schools must operate and then champion schools that want to operate without those burdens at the same time?

  6. DeKalb Dad says:

    Excellent piece.

  7. guest says:

    The Museum School is an excellent example of the power we have with the local BOE and a great example of the kinds of schools we can add to the mix without giving away that mandated power over the process. Add in an elected fresh face on the board, the dismissal of a bad superintendent and a strong petition by the parents/stakeholders in the school, and what was once denied is then approved. That’s the way it should and did work.

  8. momfromhe11 says:

    @guest –
    If I remember correctly, obtaining the charter for the Museum School was an ordeal. Yes, the parents/stakeholders finally prevailed, but they had to go to the state commission. If the Museum School that is so successful now (and has received a grant to share what they do with the public schools) is essentially the school that was presented to the DeKalb School System for approval, why did DeKalb turn it down? If not politics, what?

    I admire the persistence of those who founded the school – it’s just a shame they had to persist to realize what was a great idea to begin with.

    Am I wrong in my understanding of what happened?

  9. guest says:

    Their first try with the Dekalb BOE was when Lewis was super, and it was before Nancy Jester and Donna Edler if I recall correctly. I’m not sure if there were other new people elected after that, but the fact remains with strong pushing from the public and new people on the board and Tyson as interim Superintendent, the charter was granted after previously being denied and then granted by the state commission. When the state commission was axed by the Supreme Court, they reapplied to Dekalb BOE and if I’m not mistaken got 100% support. I can only guess as to why it was turned down before, so I won’t do that here, but I do believe that the increased scrutiny did and in the future will turn this board around. People are paying a lot more attention now because of how bad things got. I know I sure am.

  10. @guest: If you are interested in revisiting the Museum school application and approval process, read these posts about it from the original DSW blog:

    DeKalb County School Watch: Charter Schools

    Good Choices, Bad Choices, No Choice, and Hard Choices. What about Strategic Choice?

    The Charter School Push in On!

    Oh and at that last post, written almost a year ago, there is a great conversation in the comments about the overages in legal fees and electricity! Both are issues Nancy aired concerns about and was dismissed by Walker and Womack:

    October 3, 2011 7:33 PM

    Legal fees — over $3 million over for the month. Turk added it as a line item. Says legal has been a challenge for a few years. Also a million over on electricity. Nancy asked if it’s a facilities issue. Turk: Three variables: Environmental (weather), no way of knowing about rate increases, set budget may not be the way to handle.

    “Legal fees — over $3 million over for the month.”

    That’s 46 teachers for DCSS for the year (including benefits0. We could hire an extra math and science teacher for every middle and high school for the $3,000,000 we spent in legal fees in one month.

    Womack: For Miss Jester’s information, I spoke with the public service commission and he was indignant. Womack says he asked for a price break. Said it was due to the atomic plants being built (3). Blamed GA Power. Turk can’t control. We should take a more proactive view with public utilities. Walker: We all have issues with our utilities. I don’t want the public to get the impression based on the question asked that you are not monitoring. We have no control over legal fees. Can’t budget. I’m concerned that the kind of question that was asked would give the misimpression that the board is not doing due diligence. (Much more rambling on the subject.) We’re fortunate to have Marcus – want to go on the record and make that clear. Edler: Out of control electricity – you might want to consider our calendar. Perhaps we could consider moving the start time later rather than the dog days of summer.

  11. Just another day in Paradise says:

    I know about the Museum School application process in DeKalb, from beginning to end. The reason it was denied was that it wanted to pull from a pool of students in the 30002 zip code (Avondale Estates). This is not allowed in a charter that will be funded by county money. The pool must allow free and equal access to ALL students in the county, not allow for a “1st tier” and “2nd tier” of enrollment. It didn’t even use the student pool from the two elementary schools it was supposedly created to support (because they didn’t all fall into the 30002 zip code). When this was brought back to the school, all the district asked was that it broaden the enrollment pool to include the entire district. The school refused and went to the state. The state issued the same edict. The school complied. It became a State Charter School…until that was deemed illegal. When the Museum School came back to DeKalb again, the enrollment pool wasn’t an issue anymore because the state had taken that off of the table. It could have all been handled years ago.

  12. You’re correct Paradise. The Museum School originally did have an issue with wanting to serve an attendance zone near the school rather than allowing enrollment from all over the county.

  13. concernforthekids says:

    I think everyone who wants more knowledge about the upcoming Charter School amendment should go to the next Emory Lavista Parent Council meeting. Here is the information from their website.

    October 17, 2012 – International Community Charter School (former Medlock Elementary building) – “The Charter School Amendment Pros and Cons”
    Mark Peevy, former Executive Director of the Georgia Charter School Commission
    Margaret Ciccarelli, Legislative Services Manager and Attorney, Professional Association of Georgia Educators (PAGE)

    See you there!


  14. Ha says:

    Chamblee teachers received email about chain of command after letter was published.

  15. Thanks CFTK. We have that meeting listed on our Meetings & Events tab at the top of the blog. We do our best to keep that list up to date. Anyone who would like an event added, please email your info to us at and we’ll post it there.

  16. nelly nadda says:

    Posted same comment on different thread, but noticed it is an older article on same topic, so this is an intentional repeat to ensure it is read:

    Who exactly is a charter’s “community” – I thought the definition of a charter was that it was a school not bound by traditional geography so that, for example, children may attend escape failing schools in low income neighborhoods.

    The ammendment is not about whether or not we believe in charters. It is about whether or not we trust the state government’s appointed council to approve charter applications that would not normally be approved by the local board of education AND would not be able to get a denial overturrned by the state board of education.

    It’s my personal knowledge that we have quite a few charters in our system right now, serving a variety of populations. Where, exactly, are these people who cannot get their charter approved? And what are the reasons for the denials? The charters that were denied and then turned to the state were eventually denied again because the Supreme Court of Georgia ruled that it was against our constitituion. Why? Because it takes voters out of the equation. The end goal is virtual schools backed by the K-12 company and its various names of owners or subsidiaries. It’s a technological black hole which we already have with our out of control IT Department. Do you want a face on a screen on your SmartBoard or do you want a real live human being in your classroom teaching your child? Because pretty soon you will be hearing that we can’t afford both. You must choose … but the technology is coming whether you realize that’s what it is for… they are voting on an IPAD learning lab (ANOTHER one) tonight. Add up the dollars for one lab … then multiply by 140 schools or 95K students and tell me where you see room teacher salaries on top of all that.

    Nancy Jester said it can’t hurt teachers. Do you feel that way, too? Here is how it will work:

    A company that wants our money can create a “non-profit” and the company’s employees can write a charter that will get state approval because the state wants our money. The already take $100 million a year in redistribution dollars. How much more will they take? We are all going broke as it is already!! The non-profit charter gets approved and then the first thing they do is hire the company as the managment team in charge of the school and proceed to ban the community from PTA meetings (read the Smoke Rise story in Get Schooled if you do not believe this can happen) and run the schools on low budgets while diverting funds for the profit of the company and with an underlying intention to further the goals of the company above all else.

    Do you know any companies right now that share your goals in education? Or, have we learned from our current financial troubles in this country that companies will always do what is best for the comapny? That means layoffs, downsizing and mega-millions to their top brass. They will steal your retirement funds, increase your portion of your health benefits, fire you if you get hurt on the job and file worker’s compensation claims and now they suddenly care enough about your children to educate them? They don’t even want you taking sick days when your child’s school calls and says your child is sick with the flu and needs to be picked up. They don’t even understand when your child’s daycare is closed and you cannot find other arrangements and ask to work from home. Now, they want to step up and educate? But, they don’t want you to know that they are the ones stepping up to do this? Who are they? What do they want? Why is no one telling you these things?

    These same issues are happening in other states. Why? Because ALEC has created model legislation and tried to pass it everywhere. They want to cash in on the current problems in education as well as the good reputation of the term “charter school.” But, this is not a parent-backed charter movement. This is ALEC, the same ones who penned the “Stand Your Ground” law that is blamed for the Trevon Martin shooting. It is all documented on and you can watch a new program about it here: called the United States of ALEC.

    DSW and Nancy Jester need to do their research and be honest about ALEC. This is infiltration of your own watchdog blog. It’s corruption. Don’t let it seep into your own efforts to stop it elsewhere.

  17. The Deal says:

    Ha, is there any chance you have a copy of that email? I would be interested to see it. I am in full support of the teachers speaking out.

    I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again that the “vote them out” method doesn’t work. It would take so many years to somehow vote in a good board that would fire the superintendent and hire a good one that we’ll be into the next generation. We have 9 board members, 5 of whom are in an area of the county that unfortunately sees such low turnout that it is easy to manipulate the voters and get an easy win. As a central DeKalb resident, I am not welcome in areas outside of mine to tell people how to vote. Honestly, I wouldn’t want people from other regions coming into mine to tell me how to vote, either. So, I have one regular representative and one super-region representative on the board that I can “do something about”. That isn’t fair representation, and continuing to have our county represented this way is not going to result in any change. We will continue to have 5-4 votes (at best) until a huge change is made.

    Maybe state-approved charters draining the local schools of students whose parents are seeking alternatives is the way. I don’t see the state-approved charters as any sort of threat, academically or financially. If a charter is approved by political connections (this seems to be the worst case anyone can come up with) and draws a certain type of student away from the regular schools, then either I want to be a part of that group or not. If I do, then I go for the charter. If I don’t, then I am glad they are gone. Our schools are being drained of funds right now by the superintendent, her “cabinet”, Success for All, PhDs at Mercer, raises for a few educrats, administrative assistants/secretaries/coordinators/co-coordinators, and anyone else who has their hand out other than our teachers and students.

    Things are bad, SACS isn’t doing anything, and we need a major shake-up (or shake down).

  18. Mad Dad says:

    I thought “artisan” was a kind of bread or sandwich. (lol)

    We applied to the Museum School a couple years ago and we were turned down due to our zip code even though we live fairly close to the proposed school location. We were very disappointed that we did not qualify and we did not know (until reading this post) that the attendance zone requirements were changed. I think the local board was right to deny based on that factor.

    If you are going to ammend your state constitution, it had better be worth it. Have you done your research, DSW, into other states with similar bills to see how it is working? Do you really need MORE small schools being approved left and right without concern for how funds are fairly distibuted? The charter ammendment does not address the funding issue. It also states that you agree to allow the state to combine school districts. Did you read that part? I thought you wanted fewer districts, not combined ones?

    The opposition to the current system needs to regroup and plan its own strategy instead of jumping on the next bandwagon. C’mon! We expect more from our DSW editors than this. Front groups are the epitome of corruption, that which you fight against. This is NOT a legitimate charter school initiative. There are only politicians telling you how to vote. There are NO parent groups (do you know anyone who has started such a thing) that are involved in the process.

    If your own board member feels the need to convince you that you should go around the approval of the board she sits on, then you have to wonder why that is necessary? If the action stemmed from the people, then wouldn’t you already know that you want to go around them and that this is the way to do that?

    If it does not add up, do not vote for it. If they really believe in it, make them fix it and come back to you at the next election with a better plan. That’s what they are doing now that T-SPLOST failed. Learn the power in saying NO to these elected hooligans, DeKalb County! There is not one group that’s any better than the other. They are all creating these problems by being greedy and pushing forward the initiatives of whatever lobbyist gives them the biggest payoff. You are ranked number one out of all 50 states for corruption, remember?

    Do not trust anything if you are not sure who started it. Do you sense the foaming at the mouth of those politicans who are spending lots of money to tell you how to vote? Do you feel how badly they want this to pass? Did they care this much about education when they cut funding across the board? Do they care enough to step in when you were left without a Superintendent for almost two years? Do they care about money in their own pockets? These answers should tell you all you need to know.

    Turn them down and MAKE them answer to you! Just because you have not been able to turn the entire voting pool your way, yet, does not mean you will never get there! Take back the power! Don’t give more of it away! Advocate for the school board elections in less than two years away. Start now! Go out into the communities and locate the best leaders and encourage them to run. Get the word out for how concerned citizens can get more voters involed in the process. Use your voting rights given by the forefathers. Do not give up! Get in the game!

  19. Mad Dad says:

    If the communities can so easily be influenced to vote a certain way, then why are you not using your influence to make them vote another way? If they have such low turnout, then how hard can it truly be to encourage better turnout for a better outcome?

    Perhaps the reason they have low turnout in their own districts for school board elections is that they are sending their children over to your district to get their education. Did you think of that? They care more about who YOU elect because YOUR board member is representing the best interest of their children, too. They care about the way YOUR schools are run, The Deal, not the ones near them. And, why? Because of charter schools and magnet schools and any other school that allows them to leave their own community to get something better than what they have now.

    So, more charter schools will not work because the people who have the education and business acumen to form a group and write a charter petition have either A) already done so or B) left for private school or C) moved the hell away from here.

    We need LESS money on transportation an MORE money to our current teachers. We need stop allowing the worst students free passes to the best schools. We just freed all of our schools from the NCLB regulations, didn’t we? Shouldn’t we wait to see the impact of that huge weight being lifted from our schools before we start letting another authorizer start setting up schools to detract kids away from home? We haven’t even sent them home, yet! Perhaps a reinvestment in our own communities and dedication to making the neighborhood option the BEST one would work here. Isn’t that exactly what everyone keeps saying about “the way things were” in DeKalb when it was successful?

    You have done it before so why reinvent the wheel? (to use a spin off of your model car analogy in the original post) Stop trying to make rocket science out of elementary education. You are right, teachers do know what works and they have told you over and over and over. Smaller class sizes, dicipline, involved parents, freedom from obtrusive testing, faith in them to know how to reach and teach, special attention to populatons in need and consistent leadership that has come up in the ranks and is willing to work. You may not be able to change your leadership at the top overnight. But, you do have a new law that will give you more frequent opportunities to change it (every two years). Maybe you start at the bottom … stop the PTA corruption, stop the teacher’s union corruption, stop the Parent Council corruption… work your way up!

    Emory LaVista is an Orson -backed nightmare. I highly suggest NOT attending any event until he is out there. In the meantime, here is another event on the subject that will come up even sooner: Parent group sponsors panel on charter schools amendment

    With a constitutional amendment on charter schools on the November ballot, the Dunwoody-Chamblee Parents Council is sponsoring a panel discussion of the issues.

    The event is 9:15 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. on Oct. 4, at Dunwoody Public Library, 5339 Chamblee Dunwoody Rd.

    The measure calls for a new commission appointed by state officials to approve and fund charter schools. Two opposing views: and

  20. Actually, the school board and the superintendent are co-conspirators in a major “shake down” of taxpayers.

  21. We would like to see that letter about the so-called “chain of command” and re-print it here. If someone would scan it and send it to us, we will not reveal your identity.

  22. itsbrokeletsfixit says:

    The real problem is that the education system is broken; the structure is broken. Funding based on the housing market has proved unreliable, and the solutions that have been proposed do not address the underlying problems. The major reason this is true is that we have been measuring the wrong things to evaluate success in education, and then making changes over the years in response to these test results. Standardized Testing is destroying the public school system nationwide! We must start back at the beginning and ask, “What should a high school graduate know and be able to do after getting a diploma?” That graduate should be able to read and write (more that just a word or two on a test), do some basic math AND, in addition to regurgitating some facts, should have problem solving skills, know how to fail and get over it. He/she must understand personal responsibility, have some initiative and self-confidence, and what it takes to be a good citizen. These things are, for the most part, not measured on standardized tests. Teachers who work to teach these skills are not recognized and often ignored for their efforts. What could be done to really measure success of schools/teachers is the most important question. Substituting State Charters as a solution is like doing a rain dance to make it rain. Make you feel like you are doing something but has nothing to do with solving the problem (even though it will occasionally rain after the dance).

  23. itsbrokeletsfixit says:

    Here are some ideas of things that could be measured to determine school success:
    –Measure attendance and participation of parents and teachers in the PTA.
    –Measure the % of students graduating that not only attend college but graduate from college or a technical school
    –Measure the opportunities for student participation in ACADEMIC activities outside the classroom
    –Measure a school’s participation and success in academic competetions.
    –Measure failures by the # of students who become felons or get into trouble with the law
    –Give quality points to a school for students/graduates who achieve successes in the community or make positive contributions to society.

    Now that we have the capability to measure these kinds of things in a digital world, the opportunity to redefine success in public schools becomes possible. Giving meaningless standardized tests that are destroying education in public schools is a crime perpetrated on our children.

  24. GTCO-ATL says:

    Agreed! itsbrokeletsfixit, we like your positive contribution! (you must be new – ha ha!) How about insisting that a hiring freeze take place and a salary cap? Or, a clause that’s added to the administrators’ new contracts that ties their salaries to the graduation rates? 70% graduated this year? Great, you get 70% of your salary. Oh, sorry, only 50% graduated? You only earned 50% of your salary this year. We can deduct that from your paycheck next year in monthly installments or you can pay with Visa, Mastercard or Discover, right now. Which method would you prefer?

    Actually, an excellent idea we heard once and don’t know what ever became of it… we need to pass a law that states, essentially, that the “rules” the school board sets for itself and agrees to be bound by are actually certified each year as official state of Georgia law. Therefore, you break a rule, you are breaking the law and consequences will be laid out accordingly. Repeat offenders must step down from their position (since they do not understand or follow the rules) and a replacement board member may be elected and/or appointed until the next election takes place.

  25. DeKalb Inside Out says:

    One by one, county BOEs are passing resolutions to vote down the Charter School amendment like Dr Walker is trying to do in DeKalb despite the advice of the lawyers to stay neutral. Barge and the State Board are vehemently against charter schools … to the extent of breaking all kinds of laws campaigning against the amendment.

    Call me crazy, but I don’t think those entities can be trusted with Charter Schools.

    Do any of the for-profit organizations serving traditional public schools share your goals in education? WHO CARES as long as they are providing a superior service? If they don’t provide a superior service, then the parents will choose to go somewhere else and that charter will fail.

    Traditional public schools aren’t motivated to educate children or serve the community. They’re getting paid no matter what they do.

  26. Disgusted in Dekalb says:

    The Deal’s 10:08 post said it all and said it so well. Wish I could give it 50 thumbs up.

  27. DeKalb Teacher says:

    Nancy Jester said,
    “There is no downside for teachers in this charter school amendment … This is really an organic movement that will enable excellent teachers to take back control of their profession and their careers. I envision smart teachers getting together to start their own charter schools.

    I am sick and tired of teachers being rif’ed while the administration gets pay raises. Nancy’s comments have really stuck with me. If this amendment passes does anybody want to take education into their own hands. If you’re passionate about teaching, tired of Big Brother telling us how to teach and would like to have a hand in a teacher centric charter school, please email me at

  28. EAV Mom says:

    While I think our current Board and Superintendent are mostly corrupt and incompetent, I have no greater faith in the State making a difference. At least with local control we can eventually vote out the Board and replace the super. If we hand control over to the state, we are giving the power to control charters to a group of government APPOINTED officials, instead of locally ELECTED ones. I know it will take some time to improve our Board, but it can happen. Furthermore, what happens when we finally have a good Board and new Superintendent, but we have relinquished control over to the State?

    While I mistrust the local officials, I mistrust the State ones even more. I will be voting NO on the Amendment.

  29. DeKalb Inside Out says:

    Vote out the board? You can’t vote out the Dr Walker gang or the New Birth mafia that control the board, ergo the superintendent. What’s your next idea?

    The state doesn’t control charters, they just approve them (or at least used to). Control is left with the board of that charter. If you don’t like that school board and/or charter, at least you have a choice.

  30. EAV Mom says:

    “You can’t vote out the board”

    Yes, you can. That’s what voting is all about. Just because we currently have a group of yahoos running the game doesn’t mean that has to be the case. If people around the county would wake up and get involved we could make a difference. I agree that the current group is horrendous, I just don’t trust the unelected State yahoos anymore than I trust the elected local yahoos, but at least there is a possibility of ousting the group I can vote for, versus the appointed state officials that are completely out of my reach as a voter.

    My suggestions is to fix the schools we have, not create more unnecessary infrastructure and continue to spread the limited funds among smaller and smaller schools.

  31. DeKalb Inside Out says:

    “If people around the county would wake up and get involved we could make a difference. “

    Please refer to DCSD District #5 BOE race in 2010. I used to think that very few people were paying attention. I have a new theory. I posit that the community knew exactly who they were voting for. They like Jay, feel comfortable with him, and want him as their rep. It’s cultural. Like Chris Rock says, a person with a masters degree gets no respect. A person that has spent time in jail is “The Man”.

    DeKalb District #5 BOE Race in 2010:
    Kirk Nooks – B.S. and M.B.A from Mercer and Ed.D. from George Washington
    Jacques Hall – Perimeter College student
    Cunningham – functional illiterate and convicted felon with high school education

    2010 BOE election results
    Jay Cunningham – 64%
    Jackques Hall – 24%
    Kirk Nooks – 12%

  32. EAV Mom says:

    @DIO you are right about the current sad state of affairs and about the oblivious electorate. I live in SCWs district, so I understand how hard it is to make a change and wake up ignorant voters. It is a difficult problem to solve. The problem with a State Constitutional Amendment is that when we are able to make a change to the Board, they will no longer have the power to decide charter schools and the state officials are not likely to behave any better. I’m just not ready to hand over power to unelected officials and to give up my right to choose my representative in exchange for a short term fix to the problem.

  33. @EAV Mom; What you say on it’s face is true, however, in real life in DeKalb, we have been saying exactly the same thing for at least 12 years now and things are not improving on the board. The actions of the board are ruled by a majority of at least 5. Until at least 5 board members are elected that can manage a budget responsibly, insist on proper reporting from system heads of departments and interview and hire exactly the right superintendent without any behind the scenes manipulation, we are going to continue to suffer this charade of leadership. Our current leaders on the board and in the system continue to view the school system as a jobs program for adults rather than a taxpayer-funded method of educating and preparing future productive citizens. If our leaders truly believed this was their goal, they would focus laserlike on teachers and principals in the schoolhouses. They would DECREASE class sizes rather than increase. They would INCREASE support like parapros and media clerks rather than cut them. And they would consolidate schools in order to balance out resources and funding, looking in every crevice for waste and cutting it. In our nearly two decades of observing this school system as active parent leaders, we have yet to see responsible leadership as described above.

  34. DeKalb Inside Out says:

    I will do everything I can to change the culture and wake up the voters. I really liked that Kirk Nooks guy, so that election was very disheartening.

    So what if the Charter Commission is unelected? The State School Board is also unelected. And members of both are appointed by people who are elected. The people who really matter in this equation, the parents and students, do have a choice and with a charter school they can “elect” to attend a school of their choosing. In the absence of charter schools they do not have that choice.

    Charters – The Ultimate Local Control
    Like Nancy Jester said, “a group of citizens would have to organize, plan, petition, govern and ultimately send their children to the charter school. That is the ultimate local control – it is micro control – it is parent control.”

  35. EAV Mom says:

    If our goals are things like decreasing class size and increasing support staff, then how are we going to do that by adding more and more small schools. Not only do we have to pay teachers and staff, but also building maintenance, power and other related costs must be factored in for all these charter schools. My kids were booted out of Medlock when it closed on the premise that we need larger schools that service more kids. While many of the more established charter schools have enrollment that meets the standard, others are money drains. DeKalb Path has 329 students, Leadership Prep has 180, and Gateway has 96. (According to GBOE website). How are we justifying providing funding for a school with 96 kids, at the same time we just closed 8 neighborhood schools all with much higher enrollments.

    Like everyone else, I am frustrated with the state of the system and understand the desire to make some sort of significant change. I’m just leery of handing over authority to an even larger and harder to control bureaucracy. If I had the magic solution (and more personal time), I would be running for the Board myself. The real dilemma is how do we get more people involved on the local level, not how do we involve more folks from the top down. We have enough chiefs as it is. Obviously this is a tough situation that will not have an easy solution.

  36. @EAV Mom: Charter schools HAVE to function within their allotted state budgets. If they can do it, fine. (Some do get additional grant funding.) The law says that if there are vacant, unused buildings, the school board must make them available to charter schools in order to defray operating costs, however, schools like Leadership Academy and Destiny Academy pay rent for their space (both of these are housed in buildings owned by New Birth Church). The school board has, in the past, chosen to subsidize charters with additional local dollars, but they don’t have to. This is why there is a state level bump given to charters in the amendment. So, even though charters are technically public schools, they have to operate within their allotted budgets – unlike our magnet and theme schools which are allocated funding from the school board that often far exceeds regular school funding. In the past (when we were able to get records on the subject), the school board has chosen to highly subsidize some of our charter schools as well. It’s very hard to find the facts, but this is a conscious decision made by our past majority voting block of the board to overfund certain schools (including preferred charters), thereby reducing funding available for others.

  37. Breaking News on WSB: The Georgia School Board Association used tax dollars to try to defeat the charter school amendment at a mandatory board training.

    View it here:

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